Can you fight a pandemic non-compliance fine?

Coronavirus pandemic compliance

With states fining people thousands of dollars for non-compliance with pandemic travel restrictions, riders are understandably concerned about copping a fine for going on even a short ride.

Police have said officers will use their “judgement” and all fines will be assessed.

Queensland State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski explains how they will approach the issue:

Where police will take action is if there are blatant or wilful breaches happening in the community.

It will then be up to riders to challenge the fine in court.

In this new “police state” of ours, riders could be fined for a short ride around their neighbourhood to “clear the cobwebs”, get a bit of sunshine and some light exercise, even  if they stay within all health guidelines and social distancing measures.

Pandemic ride responsibly

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Non-compliance fines

At the moment there is a bunch of rules, suggestions and directives from health departments, politicians and police.

They don’t match and they vary from state to state. They are so confusing! (Click here to take our rider survey on pandemic restriction rules.)

What’s the difference and which do we obey?

In the end, it’s the police who issue the fines.

Police have reasserted that ignorance is never a defence, but surely it is in this case of hastily drafted rules that change so quickly and are contradictory.

So we asked Brisbane barrister and motorcyclist Levente Jurth for his opinion.

“Your questions are understandable, but you’ve asked for answers to hundreds, if not thousands, of variables, many of which continue to change on a daily basis,” he says.

“Obviously, I can’t respond to that.

“As a broad overview, I think the position is this: if someone is obviously doing the wrong thing and is being deliberately disobedient, then they will be punished if they get caught.

“On the other hand, anyone who is conscientiously trying to do the right thing and is doing their best to act in compliance with the applicable directives will likely be treated with some flexibility (eg. a warning), even if they have technically contravened a specific rule.”

If the matter does go to court, it could be some time until it is heard as courts are effectively closed for all but serious matters during the pandemic.

Brisbane lawyer, Andrew Evans has suggested that if anyone was fined for going for a ride in the last week or so because they believed it was permitted based on the letter from the ministers office or the ABC report then they might try writing to the officer in charge of the station that issued the fine and explain that they genuinely believed what they were allowed to go riding.

“The OIC does have some discretion to withdraw infringements and may decide it’s the right thing to do,” he says.

“There’s no guarantee that they will and you might still have to pay the fine or contest it in court but I suggest this would be your best action in the first instance.”

 

15 Comments

  1. i was pulled over by police Easter Monday. i explained i was on my was to my mothers house with toilet paper and hand sanitiser as she had neither and was afraid to go out of the house without hand sanitiser and couldn’t find toilet paper anywhere.. i told the officer i was also taking her for a walk once i got there.
    POLICE officer told me i was. making the laws up as a i pleased and told me that my 70 year old mother should order supplies. on line.
    They then defected my bike for having 12 inch handlebars despite measuring them on the side of a hill and making. a point of measuring the seat on on side and the bars on the other to justify the 15cm over the. 38 cm rule.
    in short – that trip will cost me over $3500.00 AND NO BIKE ON THE ROAD TO GET TO WORK OR DRIVE MYSELF TO THE GAP FOR SOME ESSENTIAL SUICIDE – No one needs this in these times… NSW draconian police state

  2. I don’t understand why the Commissioner of Police, in this State where I live and ride, Queensland, either does or doesn’t give a direction that is clear so that all officers know what the situation is and can act in accordance with the directions they have been given.
    There seems to be a lot of ambiguity surrounding this. Officers do have discretion and the medical directives intention is clear, they don’t want people interacting with each other unless it falls within the directives criteria. Is going to the shop to buy food and expose yourself to interaction with other people that may or may not have the virus any worse than you getting on your bike to go for a ride, that is within reason, either on your own or with your partner, stop quickly for petrol if you have to and return home without any interaction with any other person, a higher risk of potential exposure…what do you think??
    I say, of course it’s not…common sense…there’s no definition within the directive that I can find that indicates that riding a bike isn’t physical exercise..if there’s no intent by me riding my bike in these circumstances to clearly flout the law, then I see nothing wrong with riding in these circumstances.

  3. I received an ambiguous response from the NSW Police by Email this morning, they indicated that ‘riding is allowed if you are going to exercise’ , along with all the other acceptable activities. In NSW the main issue seems to be ‘Officer Discretion’, just as speeding offences where you are just over the limit, the Officer could issue a warning instead they book you and advise to appeal the fine. The Police present as doing the same with the Virus restrictions. I know there have been verified incidents in Sydney where a woman driving a people mover was booked for having 5 kids in the vehicle and being unable to verify on the spot that they where her kids. A couple where finned when they where walking through a park with a baby in a pram and they stopped and sat on a seat so mum could feed the bub. I know these are not M/C related however they illustrate the situation in NSW.

  4. So.. you can take your electric bicycle out for spin but not your motorbike because one is elec powered and one is petrol… so its petrol that’s the issue??

  5. Police discretion, can depend on a lot of things, is the officer in a bad mood because he/she just got abused by the last person they dealt with, their understanding of the directives, your attitude towards them, and unfortunately in some cases sheer bloody minded officiousness.
    In the end it’s up to us riders to know what rules of the day are and too remember they are often so vague and open to interpretation that there is no right answer.
    If you get fined, go to court and win it will probably cost you as much or more than the fine to defend your case. Remember the man/woman who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.
    One more little aside for those who are outraged by all of this “enforcement”.
    Americans are protected by their Bill of Rights, so a lot of what is going on here couldn’t happen there, the result, just look at the numbers.

    1. Not always a fool for a client, if they know the laws they’re accused of and have supportive evidence to the contrary. I and many others have done this in the past and won.

  6. Went for an “exercise” ride yesterday, a mate just finished his 2 weeks isolation after coming back from overseas. Went to Blackbutt and had a bit of lunch in a nearby park, observing distancing rules etc. A local Copper pulled in behind the bikes, went in and bought his lunch, nodded to us as he left, didn’t say a word. I think if you appear to be obeying the ‘rules’ and don’t act like a d…head it is highly likely discretion and common sense will be applied.

  7. Basically, don’t ride anywhere for pleasure alone, it has to be related to, work, business, shopping, doctor, chemist or assisting relative or friend.

  8. One of the big problems we have is that the new laws are so fluid and vary from state to state.
    We see the announcements but she by end of the bulletin, we have no idea which law applies to where.
    I live in Queensland, I have no idea even where to find the laws that supply to me. A recent post by Motorcycle Writer from a police officer looked promising but even that long discourse didn’t explain the exemptions and there was no link to a list leaving me to think that the police are making all this up on the fly

  9. Anyone know the latest on riding a motorcycle in NSW legal or not. I have been locked up in the house for weeks now, its doing my head in, not even sure if I can still safely manoeuvre my bike around as Im losing muscle mass by not using using it.
    Riding a motorcycle uses a select muscle group.

    I need the exercise, please.

      1. Why not just use you bike to do your shopping on and ensure you have a few specific specialists shops on the list that are little further away.

  10. A motorcyclist was eventually pulled over by a highway patrol, the officer yelled at him, why the #uck were you doing twice the speed limit ?
    The motorcyclist replied, just making sure I wasn’t going for a leisurely ride.

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